In order to increase financial transparency on government spending, Botswana has been encouraged to upload all its budget information on the World Bank’s open budgets system called BOOST.
This call comes hardly four months since the Open Budget Index (OBI) – which is the world’s only independent and comparative measure of central government budget transparency – urged Botswana to improve transparency by publishing “in a timely manner the entirety of the Executive’s Budget Proposal, including the Budget Speech and all supporting tables, on the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning’s official website.”
World Bank official Juan Carlos said, if Botswana decides to join BOOST, the World Bank will first verify the fiscal data to ensure that it can be understood by nonfinancial experts. Currently only 10 African countries have uploaded data on the portal namely Uganda, Niger, Burundi, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali, Seychelles, Mauritania, Tunisia and Togo.
However, before data can be uploaded Carlos says Botswana should pass the BOOST test which involves thorough and painstaking measures to ensure their reliability and validity. He also says uploading the fiscal data on Boost will facilitate citizen participation in the country’s spending. Apart from accountability and citizen participation, the portal provides an alternative source of spending data.
BOOST has been credited for creating greater financial transparency on government spending. BOOST also serves as a potent tool for building open budgets, by making budget data handy to key users in a consistent and readily understood framework. According to the World Bank, “This provides a key asset for enhancing accountability, whether used within the executive in improving the quality and clarity of budget planning and preparation or by the legislature, or civil society actors more interested in holding the executive to account for budget performance and service delivery.”